Saying that the Ultimate Fighter has run it's course isn't an earth-shattering statement. It's a statement that is backed by stagnant ratings, sub-par show winners, and relative lack of interest in any contestant on the show. To be brutally honest, The Ultimate Fighter reality show was probably run more than one course.
Everybody has a solution for everything, and it's clear the UFC is trying to find one to reinvigorate the reality show that was a catalyst for the explosion they endured in the mid 2000's. They've answered the criticism of the drop-off of talent the later seasons have faced by debuting the 145 and 135 pound weight classes on Season 14. It was to no avail as there was no noticeable impact from a ratings stand-point.
This current season, things were changed up. The show became a live broadcast, airing all of the fights in the house live. While most hardcore fans enjoy the new set-up, it's clearly not made an impact from a ratings standpoint. Something the UFC desired especially because it was the debut season on FX.
Personally, I think they'd be better off by putting the reality show down like Old Yeller, but if I was asked to come up with a solution to make the show interesting and successful again then I would suggest one thing. Women's MMA.
It is definitely not a long-term fix because a women's version of the show would eventually run it's course after a couple of seasons, but it'd still provide the spark the show desperately needs on its new network. There is enough talent in the women's division to make a captivating, deep reality show, and someone like Sara McMann could make herself a star and into an intriguing challenger for Sarah Kaufmann or Ronda Rousey's 135 pound crown.
A women's version of the show would work for many reasons. For one, if Tate/Rousey was any foreshadowing, then it's almost a guarantee that they'd bring the drama that current American reality television requires. Living in a house with 15 other men for an extended amount of time, but you can change imagine how irritable these women will get after living in the house for a while. That irritability will provide enticing moments of reality television.
Comparing the Ultimate Fighter to the Bachelor is quite a stretch, but The Bachelor has always been more successful of a show then the Bachellorette. The reason why? The Bachelorette is a sausage-fest while The Bachelor is filled with attractive women that pique some of the interest of the male audience.
The 18-34 male audience that The Ultimate Fighter has established should stay because watching sixteen beautiful women on their TV screen competing in MMA is likely right up their alley. Let's face it guys like watching women, and if you add the current audience to the possible audience of females that check out what the show is all about then you get a larger TV rating.
From a coaches' standpoint, if Tate and Rousey when there next fights then I think matching them up against one another would make for one of the greatest coaching rivalries in TUF history.
We may still be a couple years out of every sniffing a women's MMA fight on a UFC PPV card, but The Ultimate Fighter could be a great way to introduce the mainstream MMA audience to Women's MMA along with providing a much needed spark to MMA's original hit reality show.